Hebrew Benevolent Society of Charleston, SC

The Oldest Jewish Charitable Society in the United States
Founded June 25, 1784
Charleston, SC

The Hebrew Benevolent Society
Charleston, South Carolina
225th Anniversary
November 21, 2009
Francis Marion Hotel
Charleston, SC

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The Seal of the Hebrew Benevolent Society of Charleston 1784
Click here to read booklet from 225th Anniversary



The Jews of South Carolina: from the earliest times to the present day
By Barnett Abraham Elzas

Organized, June 25, 1784 
Reorganized, October 20, 1824 
Incorporated, December 18, 1830 
Reorganized, October 7, 1866 

The Hebrew Benevolent Society, of Charleston, S. C, is the oldest institution of its kind in America. Till quite recently, when the author recovered and identified the original seal of the Society, its early history was absolutely unknown. The late Nathaniel Levin, in his sketch of the Congregation Beth Elohim, was unaware of the date when the Society was established. Nor were his predecessors better informed. In The Courier of December 5, 1825, there is a notice of the ” Anniversary Celebration of the Hebra Gemilut Hassadim or Hebrew Benevolent Society.” In The Courier of December 21, 1827, the third anniversary meeting is noticed. In The Courier of December 18, 1840, the meeting is described as the eleventh anniversary. In The Courier of December 22, 1843, the forty-seventh anniversary is noted, and in The Courier of November 29, 1847, the meeting of November 24, 1847, is referred to as the fifty-sixth anniversary! The discovery of the seal in the possession of the family of one who was for many years the secretary of the Society puts the matter beyond doubt. How it came to pass that the origin of the Society was so obscure, with the seal in existence, is somewhat difficult to surmise. 

In 1899 a committee was appointed for the purpose, among other things, of obtaining such data as would give the history of the Society from its organization. This Committee reported ” that it was unable through lack of material—part of the earlier records of the Society being lost and others destroyed by fire—to present the sketch of its life, which would have been of genuine interest to its members to-day, and an incentive to them to continue its honorable record of over a century.” 

The following paragraph from the Preamble of the Report of the Committee on Revision (1870) tells the story of the origin of the Society: 

” The object of this Society is Benevolence. In that one emphatic, grateful word, are comprehended all the tender offices of Charity. For though the original motive of the establishment of this Institution, on June 25th, 1795, was the relief of the invalid emigrant who landed on our hores, and who might fall a victim to a climate less hospitable than ourselves, yet that primary view was enlarged at the revival of this Society, on the 20th October, 1824, and a more expansive idea of gentle kindness was determined upon when the Society obtained an Act of Incorporation by the Legislature, on the 18th of December, 1830; and now upon the reorganization of the Society, October 7th, 1866, our energies gathering strength with time, our fond aspiration for diffusing good, increasing as season follows season, in the noiseless flight of time, we have gradually enlarged our wishes for serving our fellow beings, as year has succeeded to year, until at this day our bosoms swell so high with the ennobling desire, that we acknowledge no limit to our benevolence, save in the means of executing our charitable intents. Thus, while in our restricted ability to do good, we recognize our utter dependence on the Divine Author of our being, we testify, by our boundless ardor to serve His creatures, our gratitude to that Merciful Father who sends down His dew alike on all flowers, and sheds His sunbeams on every people: And, to effect these ends, as far as in our power, we adopt the following—” * * 

There is one very important mistake, however, in the story, and that is in the date of the foundation of the Society. It should be 1784 and not 1795. This is clearly shown by the seal. This seal is a beautiful specimen of the engraver’s art, very quaint and unlike the seals we see today, having been made by hand. It is cut in silver and the edges are considerably worn. The picture on its face is very suggestive of the original object of the Society—the Angel of Death, with a scythe in one hand and an hourglass in the other. The inscription reads as follows:

Founded 8th Tammuz
Charity delivereth from death.”

The following Membership Lists are from An Historical Sketch by Thomas J. Tobias:


This list of members of the Society in 1810, when the Constitution of that year was adopted, was published as an appendix in the booklet containing the Constitution of 1889.

Abrahams, A. H.Cohen, LouisGoldstein, D.Lazarus, B. D,Moses, J. L.Solomons, S. S.
Abrahams, T. H.Cohen, McDuffGoudkop, I.Lazarus, E. M.Myer, J.Spertner, M.
Alexander, L.Cohen, N. A.Harris, A. J.Leveson, J.Myers, Rev. M. H.Spring, J.
Ancker, G. V.Cohen, P. MelvinHarris, IsaacLevin, N.Nachman,A.Sprinz, B.
Apple, J.Crinch, H.Hart, C.Levin, N., Jr.Oppenheim, J. H.Strauss, M.
Barrett, JacobDavega, Dr. C. C.Hart, D. S.Levin, S. M.Oppenheim, Jos.Strauss, Solomon
Belitzer, J.David, R. L.Hertz, J. E.Levy, JosephOppenheim, S. H.Tobias, J. L.
Benjamin, LouisDeLeon, H. H.Hoffman, G.Levy, MaxOttolengui, IsraelTriest, J.
Bentschner, DavidDrucker, L.Hoffman, S.Lewith, E. J.Pearlstein, T.Valentine, H.
Bentschner, S.Elias, L.Holzman, S.Loeb, D.Prince, GeorgeVizanska, G. A.
Berkman, H.Elias, LewisHyman, E.Lopez, DavidRice, B.Wallach, John
Block, E.Elias, LouisIseman, J.Lorentz, L.Rich, L.Wallach, Isaac
Brown, H.Endel, M. M.Iseman, MarkLoryea, A.Rich, PhilipWallach, Myer
Brown, SamuelEpstin, PhilipIsrael, M.Mairs, S.Rosenthal, H.Weiskoppff, L.
Chumaceiro, J. H. M. Rev.Falk, A.Jacobi, M.Mann, SimonSchur, B. D.Winestock, B. M.
Clark, H.Fass, S.Jacoby, P. G.Mantoue, B.Schur, BarnetWolff, Henry
Cohen, G.Flaum, J.Jacoby, S. A.Mantoue, E.Scott, E.Zemansky, S.
Cohen, J. BarrettFrank, J.Jacobs, DavidMintz, JacobSeckendorff, A.
Cohen, JacobGarfunkel, M.Jacobs, R. H.Mintz, Jos.Seckendorff, M.
Cohen, JosephGoldman, G. L.Kaplan, Theo.Moise, C. H.Shapira, L. D.
Cohen, L.Goldsmith, A. A.Klein, IsaacMordecai, Benj.Solomons, Dr. J. R.


This list of members of the Society in 1899 was printed in the booklet containing the Constitution of 1899, which was published in 1900.

N. AbrahamsLouis CohenF. HerzogNat. IsraelJ. N. Nathans, Jr.E. M. Solomons
I. W. BanovW. B. CohenH. HirschmanSamuel IsraelT. M. PearlstineRobert M. Solomons
M. M. BernsteinJ. L. DavidS. HirschmanW. W. JacksonI. PinkussohnS. S. Solomons
Henry BlankM. M. DavidM.HornikLouis LevineJake PinkussohnMontague Triest
I. BlankH. H. DeLeonArthur IsraelE. J. LewithJ. S. PinkussolmSol C. Williams
Z. BrownRalph EliasI. IsraelJ. LivingstonG. M. Pollitzer
I. S. CohenMax FurchgottLewis IsraelI. M. MonashH. Rephan
L. L. CohenM. H. GarfunkelM. IsraelJ. N. NathansS. Rittenberg


This list of the members of the Society in 1965, the year that the new Constitution was adopted and this historical sketch pubIished, totals 188 members, the Iargest membership in the history of the Society.

Ackerman William Epstein, Alex Jacobs, Melvin T. Livingstain, Leo H. Reznick, Moses Solomon, David
Addlestone, Dr. Hyman Epstein, Dave Jacobs, S. H. Maschler, Arthur Rittenberg, Dr. Alvin Solomon, Irving
Alterman, DavidFeinberg, D. Stanley Jacobson, I. H. Meddin, Hyman Rittenberg, Dr. Henry Solomon, Melvin
Baner, Arthur Feldman, Dr. Leon Kaplan, Burton A. Mendelson, Dr. Bernard P. Robin, Belvin H. Solomon, Walter H.
Banov, Dr . Cbarles H. Feldman, William Karesh, Alex Mendelson, Isadore Robinson, Irving M. Steinberg, Irving
Banov, I. Lee Fox, Harold Karesh, Leonard Mendelsohn, Burnet Robinson, Klyde Steinberg, Leon
Banov, Dr. Leon, Jr. Fox, Otto Karesh, Dr. Stanley H. Mendelsohn, Harry Rosen, Dr. Jack Steinberg, Dr. Matthew
Banov, Dr. Leon, Sr.Freudenberg, Henry H. Kohn, Albert Mendelsohn, Joseph S. Rosen, Morris Steinberg, Samuel
Banov, Milton A.Furchgott, Max Koslow, Henry Mendelsohn, Moses J.Rosen, Samuel Sternberg, Harry L.
Barbanel, Leon Galinsky, Rabbi H. M. Krawcheck, Abe Meyerson, Gerald Rubin, Ben Stine, Dr. Gordan B.
Barkowitz, Donold B. Garfield, Louis Krawcheck, Jack Meyerson, L. A. Rubin, Isadore Sudit, Howard
Barron, Ben M. Garfinkel, Alex Krawcheck, Max Needle, Dr. Harry Rubin, Manning Tanenbaum, Louis M.
Baumrind, M. Harold Garfinkel, Max Krawcheck, Saul Needle, Dr. Herman Rudich, Seymour Tanenbaum, Max M.
Baumrind, Stephen Garfinkel, Philip Kronsberg, Avram Needle, Joe Sandler, Nat Taxon, Rabbi Jordan L.
Berlinsky, Herbert Geldbart, Dr. Ralph G. Kronsberg, Jonathan Nussbaum, Maurice Schiff, CharlesTobias, Thomas J.
Berlinsky, Normam Gilick, Charles Kronsberg, Edward Olasov, Bernard J. Schraibman, Jack Toporek, Louis M.
Bernstein, Charles S. Ginsberg, I Kronsberg, Milton Padoll, Rabbi Burton L. Schwartz, J. Marion Triest, Maier
Bernstein, M. A. Goldberg, David S. Kurtzman, Dr. Joseph L., Patla, Jack Shapiro, Samuel Vane, Jack
Bernstein, W. J. Goldberg, Harry Lancer, David Pearlman, Hon. Gus H. Sharnoff, Moses Weil, Julius H.
Birlant, George C. Goldberg, I. M. Lancer, Isadore Pearlstine, Edwin S. Sherman, Harold I. Weinberger, Jack I.
Bluestein, M. H. Goldberg, Moses D. Lapin, Reuben E. Pearlstine, Edwin S., Jr. Shimel, Louis M. Weinberger, Phil
Bogin, George S. Goldberg, Nathan Lehrer, Maxwell Pearlstine, Floyd ShoIk, Harry J. Wetherhorn, Leo
Brickman, Jack P. Goldberg, S. Irwin Lemel, Dr. A. Lawrence Pearlstine, Milton A. Shulman, Nat Williams, Dr. Arthur V.
Brickman, Sam Goldman, Sol Lesser, Louis Poliakoff, Max Silver, Dr. Bernard Wolper, Leon
Chase, Marty Goldstein, Maurice Lesser, MelvinPressman, J. L. Slotchiver, Shaie Yaschik, Eugene
Cohen, David E. Golembe, Samuel Levinson, A. J. Priluker, Harold Slotin, Philip H. Yaschik, Henry
Cohen, Edgar A. Halio, Elliott T. Levinson, Harry J. Prystowsky, Arnold Sokol, Joseph Zucker, J.
Coleman, Dave Hirshberg, William Levkoff, Irving Rabinowitz, Louis Sokol, Morris Zucker, Julius M
Coleman, Dr. Ralph R. Hirsch, Willard Levy, Alexander Raphael, Capt. Alfred L. Sokol, Oscar  
Davis, Allan J. Hirschmann, Edgar Levy, Sidney Raskind, Sidney Solomon, A. Bernard  
Ellison, Dr. Haskell S. Hornik, Marion W. Lipman, Leon Read, Joseph D. Solomon, A. Melvin  
Ellison, Morton Jacobs, Harold Lipton, Dr. Morey Rephan, HymanSolomon, Aaron  


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